Our PhD programme



The International History and Politics Department of the Graduate Institute – the oldest school of international relations in Europe located in Geneva, the site of historical international organisations and historically of the League of Nations – enables students to pursue historical research and analysis in the context of the Institute’s anchoring in both the humanities and the comparative analysis of contemporary policy and governance.


A Dynamic Study Plan


The particular contribution of the International History and Politics Department is to bring a historical methodology to the study of international affairs, including policy-making, political systems and institutions. These methods – specifically qualitative and textual analysis, archival research and attention to structural change and continuities over time – allow students to coherently link history, politics and the contemporary environment.

A degree in international history and politics at the Graduate Institute in Geneva can lead to a career as an international historian and it also provides a set of tools for a practical career in politics and diplomacy as well as in the private sector.  The same methods that make for a great international historian are a tremendous, indeed indispensable asset in the world of global politics. Of particular importance are the ways that historians illuminate the political relevance of questions of meaning, culture, mentalities and deep economic structures locally and globally.

The Department’s mission is to encourage dynamic and cross-cutting historical approaches to understanding, contextualising and situating current international politics and policies. Members of the faculty teach and research governmental and non-governmental actors and organisations; human rights, humanitarianism and humanitarian actions/interventions; development politics, policies and ideologies; nation-building and state-building; civil society and social movements, gender, women and public policies, labour, employment and trade unions; international and global public health; environment and environmentalisms, climate change and political ecologies; immigrants, refugees and diasporas; international finance and economy; conflicts and international security issues, political violence and terrorism; transnational actors, institutions, histories and processes; and foreign policies, multilateral diplomacy, negotiations and co-operation, regional integration, and North-South relations.

PhD in International History and Politics


The PhD in International History and Politics is a four-year programme equipping students with the analytical, conceptual and methodological tools to successfully complete a work of original, book-length research. A small number of required courses orient students before they are permitted to move on to the research component.

Courses, seminars and research projects in the Department cluster around the intersecting themes of international relations, institutions and movements; global/world and transnational history; history and policy; the history of ideas; the Global South and postcoloniality; and the histories of individual regions – the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, East Asia and South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • This PhD combines coursework, seminars, a preliminary thesis and defence, and the doctoral thesis itself.
  • The Department admits a very limited number of students to this programme.
  • The programme encourages direct contact, debates and exchange with faculty and fellow students.
  • During their first year, students are required to take four courses: a doctoral seminar, taught by two different faculty members, and two semester-long courses in their area of interest.
  • In the first semester of their second year, students prepare and defend a preliminary thesis, explaining their research project and methods.
  • After successful completion of the preliminary thesis, students have five semesters within which to complete their research and writing (often outside Geneva), and to submit and defend their doctoral thesis.

Curriculum Overview

  • 2 compulsory courses (12 credits)
  • 2 elective courses (12 credits)
  • Preliminary thesis dissertation (30 credits)
  • Option to choose other discipline minor (18 credits)
  • Dissertation

    Total of 54 credits or 72 (with minor)
PhD Guidelines

Preliminary Dissertation Guidelines for PhD Students


Davide Rodogno, Professor of International History and Politics, welcomes new students and gives an introduction to what they can expect in their first year at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva.


The P8 programme, initiated by Swissuniversities in 2019, aims to enhance digital skills in education. Specifically focused on supporting universities, the programme offers workshops for PhD students from the Geneva Graduate Institute.  These workshops combine traditional presentations with practical exercises to impart knowledge and skills, creating new learning opportunities. While these workshops do not provide academic credits, students who attend and complete a workshop will receive a certificate.  Further information regarding upcoming workshops and our previous workshops can be found on the Libguide